HBO have decided not to go ahead with a second series of their adaptation of The Time Traveler’s Wife, the hit novel by Audrey Niffenegger. Steven Moffat scripted the first series and also served as executive producer alongside Sue Vertue and former Doctor Who colleague Brian Minchin.
The series had mixed reviews when it was shown earlier this year, and the cancellation is the latest chapter in a somewhat troubled history of bringing the novel to the screen, with a previous movie version, starring Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams, poorly received on its release in 2009.
The Time Traveler’s Wife tells the story of Henry who, stricken with a unique disease which sends him travelling in time unpredictably, meets Clare, the great love of his life, at various points in time. If that sounds familiar, it won’t be a surprise that Moffat has publicly acknowledged his debt to the novel as inspiration for The Girl in the Fireplace:
“I read Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife many years ago, and I fell in love with it. In fact, I wrote a Doctor Who episode called The Girl In The Fireplace as a direct response to it. When, in her next novel, Audrey had a character watching that very episode, I realised she was probably on to me.”
Theo James and Rose Leslie played the leads in Moffat’s version, which Radio Times said ‘hits some serious stumbling blocks from its first episode’, with The Guardian opining that Moffat ‘takes the melodrama down a notch and salts the schmaltz with wit where he can’. Many reviewers pointed to the book’s sexual politics and depiction of the love story (Henry first encounters Clare as a child) as deeply problematic.
You can judge for yourself by viewing the series on HBO in the USA and Sky Atlantic/Now TV in the UK, or on the DVD due out in October. The unhappy history of adaptations of The Time Traveler’s Wife hasn’t put off those behind a forthcoming musical version, set to make its debut at the Storyhouse theatre in Chester in September, before transferring to London’s West End. Dave Stewart and Joss Stone have written the score for the production.